Parks and Recreation, “Indianapolis”

Because of my schedule, I don’t get to write about Parks and Recreation every week and that just makes me sad. I think I’ve settled in on a schedule where I write about every other episode, which is better than nothing, I guess. Although it’s moderately disappointing that I didn’t have time to write about last week’s fantastic showcase for Adam Scott in “Media Blitz,” this week’s “Indianapolis” is a damn fine episode to check in on.

Even for an episode of Parks and Rec, this episode doesn’t have much going on in terms of actual plotting.There are two primary events happening here, but neither of them are particularly important in the season’s ongoing struggle to put on the Harvest Festival and save Pawnee’s Parks Department. Instead, Leslie and Ron’s trip to Indianapolis and everyone else’s journey to the Snakehole Lounge provide the episode a simple framework to let these wonderful actors bounce off one another for 22 minutes. There are a few fine character moments intermixed in here, but for the most part, this episode is just a fan caper to the six episodes the cast and crew produced at the end of season two’s shooting schedule.

For me, a sign of good comedy is when a series hits me with expected jokes, and they still work completely. Ron’s love of steak is well-known by the series’ fans and has been well-explored before this episode. But even though “Indianapolis” mines that familiar territory yet again, watching Ron go through the roller coaster ride of prepping for his favorite steakhouse only to find that it has been boarded up leading to a meat-free dinner at Chris’ swanky apartment is just glorious television. I’m not really sure what else you can ask for from Parks and Rec if you don’t enjoy Ron’s photo album of steak dinners or his assertion to the shoddy dinner that they bring him “all” the bacon and eggs they have.

Similarly, it feels like we’ve been down this “prospective mogul gone wrong” path with Tom before, but much like Nick Offerman’s performance as Ron, I can never have enough of Aziz Ansari’s Tom Haverford. From the ridiculous amount of horrible fragrances Dennis Feinstein has — my favorite is obviously Side Boob — to Ben’s middling attempts to make Tom feel better, this was just a fun little story. Tom and Ben feels a bit like Tom and Mark because of Ben’s inherent straight-man-ness, but it fully works nevertheless because Ben is less patronizing and more nerdy in his responses to Tom.

Because they weren’t sure if Rob Lowe could stick around for the long-haul, there’s something of a conclusion to Chris’ story with Ann here and boy is it intelligently handled. This wasn’t really the episode for an emotional break-up and it probably doesn’t fit the characters anyway, so I thought the way it was handled here, with Ann failing to realize that Chris broke up with her a week earlier because she’s never been dumped before, was just tremendous. Not only does it open up the episode to a number of great jokes with characters being confused as to why Ann was acting a certain way or Leslie’s stream of horrible break up stories (“Skywriting isn’t always positive”), but it continued the trend of making Ann a more comedic goofball instead of stiff straight-woman. Clearly, Chris is still going to be around for the duration of the season — though I’m not sure if he’s around in every episode — so this story is going to continue, but the break up was totally worth it here.

Finally, April and Andy: What can I say? They’re adorable together. This episode showed how far the two of them have come since the beginning of last season, wherein Andy is desperate to do the things necessary to keep a woman and April is willing to let her guard down and be a total goofball with the shaggy dog that is Andy. I’m sure there will be some conflict in the future, but this is a relationship that should continue to be cute and funny without much melodramatic tension.

After these six episodes, Parks and Recreation has re-established itself as one of, if not the, best comedy on television. This has been a great pod and I can only imagine what the time off gave the writers to cook up for the final 10 episodes of the season.


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